The actual part of landing the job was pretty easy. I applied online and within minutes the recruiter called to say they were interested but had some questions about some pictures I had on my Facebook page. Once I explained that the red tube I appeared to be using for a giant straw was a scientific experiment to see if I could inhale a bowl of steaming kelp, I interviewed with several managers using my Webcam. I’m thinking, “pretty high tech here.” Little did I know that I was being drawn into a Paleozoic era pool of petrified initiative and imagination. I found out why they needed a process engineer.
The first day was pretty much a waste. There were all these presentations on policies for sexual harassment, discrimination, compliance, confidentiality … blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I wanted to put a bloody stick in my eye. It was like four hours of listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher going “waun wah waun wah waun wah.” I was expecting some socialization about who the bank is, where it came from, what the culture is. But NOOOOO!! All I remember is Reg A to Z and a couple double C’s and don’t talk about our customers’ business.
After a morning of that nonsense and a brown bag lunch, I spent the afternoon filling out paperwork to open my checking and savings accounts. I thought they would just let me use the Web but it turns out our customers can’t actually open an account online. Oh, it looks like you can but it really just prints a form for someone to rekey. They said that takes about three days so filling out the paper by hand and walking it over to the branch was faster. When I asked them why they didn’t let customers open accounts online, they said that there was an OFAC law that made it illegal and BSA RED FLAG identity theft was a big concern. After just one day I was sick of all these three letter acronyms. Lucky there was a trash can nearby because I threw up my alphabet soup.
The next batch of paperwork was for benefits enrollment. After the fifth time of penning Alexander Panteliusha Chastakorlenka, I was cursing Dad’s Russian heritage. HR said they had a programming change request in to automate the benefits enrollment process using Outlook email forms. It sounded like that online account opening process sham. When I asked them why we didn’t just buy the Benefits Module from the HRIS vendor that does our payroll, I was told the Vendor Risk Management Committee didn’t approve it. I still haven’t figured that one out. We are already using them. I threw up again.The second day was even more of a waste. I made it to my cube but it turns out that the workstation had not been installed. They let me sit at the desk of someone who was on vacation but my login ID didn’t work. I found out later it wasn’t even requested. You would think that loading me into the payroll database would trigger something to IT that I was coming aboard. The Information Security Manager called me and said he would do me a favor and fast-track my systems access request. He asked me to pull down the User Access form from the intranet, fill it out and get my supervisor to sign it. After I explained that I couldn’t get to the intranet because I didn’t have a user ID, he rattled off a list of choices for systems that I might need access to. I still don’t know what a CICS Vector TSSO VPN ID is or how I am supposed to use it but I finally got email on the third day. To gain Internet access I had to attend a class. More nonsensical spew on porn, shopping and fantasy football. I didn’t throw up though because they gave some really good examples that I tried when I got back to the apartment.
Finally I was ready to do what they were paying me do. I didn’t get a lot of direction although they did point me to a book of benchmarks where they had highlighted some low performing ones and told me they wanted all those to be boosted into the 75th percentile. I noticed several that had to do with ATMs and debit cards. Being an avid card user I decided to tackle those first. So I arranged a meeting with the electronic banking (EB), marketing (MKT) and IT people. The meeting went something like this:
Me: Our average profit per ATM has been declining for four years. Should we look at relocating them to attract more foreign usage?
MKT: No, that would be too expensive. How about we partner with iTunes and start selling songs for a mark up?
EB: What the hell are you talking about?
MKT: Now that we have those headphone jacks on all the ATMs, I was thinking we could start to make use of them.
IT: Yeah but we don’t know if they even work. ADA made us put them in and I think the last screen load for OD protection notification hosed up the script.
MKT: Did you let compliance know? We could be in violation of some Reg GLBA or something.
Me: Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! I chunked up a tuna sandwich yesterday over all these letters. Let’s stay away from that and get back to profitability. We are getting way off track here.
MKT: And when did we start dispensing coins at the ATM?
EB: What the hell are you talking about?
MKT: I noticed that whenever our customers want to make a withdrawal, they waste two keystroke entering four-zero-zero-zero for forty dollars. Why do we make them enter the cents EVERY time if we only dispense bills?
IT: To save programming time we reused the same screen for entering the deposit amount and they could have cents on the check they are depositing.
EB: (whispering) Thanks for that rescue.
MKT: But we shut down all the deposit taking ATMs because of the daily courier expense, and customers weren’t using them anyway.
IT: Yeah, I know, we took deposits out of the last screen load and we think that’s what messed up the headphone script.
Me: Guys! Guys! Guys! We’re supposed to be talking about ATM profitability here.
MKT: I know how we could reduce expenses. We could stop printing paper receipts for every stinking transaction.
EB: Way ahead of you bro. We ask that question as soon as you put in your PIN.MKT: Exactly. You ask me EVERY freaking time if I want a receipt. I have never answered yes in my last 200 transactions. Don’t you think you could save that information? Aren’t we trying to act like we know who our customers are?
IT: We could certainly do that, but how would we know when to print a receipt in case they wanted one?
EB: Maybe we could add another menu option on the main screen that asks if you want a receipt for you last transaction.
MKT: And maybe that screen load will make the headphones work again……….
Me: Stop … stop …stop … Saving paper is green and all that and knowing our customers is great … but none of that will make our ATMs more profitable.
EB: Some of the profit will come back in two years when our triple DES upgrade expenses are fully depreciated.
Me: I’m feeling that wave of nausea coming over me again. What exactly is triple DES?
IT: A sophisticated encryption algorithm mandated by the networks.
MKT: What the hell are you talking about?
Me: Yeah! I think I’d rather just throw up.
MKT: And speaking of knowing our customers, you guys own the call center, too, don’t you?
EB: Yes I do, and our benchmarks have been improving since we installed the new phone system and began tracking and reporting agent performance.
IT: That new voice over IP and screen pop is pretty cool if I do say so myself.
MKT: OH YEAH! Well how come you ask me every time I call in from home to press 1 for English or oprima el cinco para Espanol? I have never, ever pressed cinco. Don’t you know my phone number when I call in and can’t you just make it skip that question after the 5th or 6th time? I realize we have to offer it but how many times do we have to throw it in the face of the 99% of our customers who only speak English? Aren’t we supposed to know who our customers are and what their preferences are? Language preference is a pretty basic one, don’t you agree?
Me: TIME OUT. I did a little research into banking technology before I took this job. And to understand our customers and their preferences, it sounds like what we need here is a CRM solution.Then they all threw up on me.
Gotta go now. I’ll write back in a couple of months and let you know if I am making progress. But don’t rent out my room yet.
Efficiency improvement is one of our our strong points at Cornerstone Advisors. We’ll help you identify the process killers within your organization — areas where handoffs, miscommunications and delays are jeopardizing your institution’s peak efficiency. Then we’ll work with you to remedy the situation with new processes that will restore efficiency and maximize profitability within your organization.
Contact Cornerstone today to discuss how we can work with you to implement a plan that incorporates cost effective processes throughout the organization.